Difference between revisions of "RationalWiki:Community Standards"

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*Redirects are used to direct someone using the search function to the proper article.  For example, someone searching for "Scientology" should be immediately redirected to the properly-named article, [[Church of Scientology]].
*Redirects are used to direct someone using the search function to the proper article.  For example, someone searching for "Scientology" should be immediately redirected to the properly-named article, [[Church of Scientology]].
*When referencing another wiki (or any other website), please use [[Help:Linking style|static or diff links]].  Links to the more volatile "live" versions are likely to become outdated soon after linking.
*When referencing another wiki (or any other website), please use [[Help:Linking style|static or diff links]].  Links to the more volatile "live" versions are likely to become outdated soon after linking.
*External links to websites purely devoted to hate (neo-[[Nazi]], [[Christian Identity]], [[Metapedia]] and so on) should be avoided per longstanding RationalWiki policy.  This is so we don't contribute to driving up their standing in search engine results.
==See also==
==See also==

Revision as of 12:24, 31 May 2010

These are the guidelines defined by the RationalWiki community. These are not site rules but rather a list of standards we as a community try to live up to. Please do your best to live up to them.



As stated in our mission statement, RationalWiki's official purpose is to

  1. analyze and refute the anti-science movement,
  2. analyze and refute crank ideas, and
  3. explore the nature of authoritarianism and fundamentalism.

We also have a fourth, unofficial purpose, which is to provide people who agree with the previously-stated goals a place to just hang out and have fun with like-minded people.

RationalWiki is not a general encyclopedia; it does not require articles on every known subject. However, the wiki's mainspace welcomes many articles that do not relate to the primary missions of RationalWiki providing that they are factually accurate and of interest to the community at large. These include articles on general science, historical events and important individuals throughout the world.

Point of view

RationalWiki does not use Wikipedia's well-known "Neutral Point of View". We have our own version: SPOV. SPOV means two things:

  • Snarky point of view — This is the meaning most people refer to. It means that, to keep our articles from being dry and boring, we spice it up with humor, sarcasm, skepticism, satire, and wit.
  • Scientific point of view — Less talked about but arguably more important, the scientific point of view means that our articles take the side of the scientific consensus on an issue. RationalWiki should be and will be highly critical of any unscientific, irrational, or just plain stupid idea, movement, or ideology.

Our official policy on religion is that we do not have an official policy on religion. Our community of editors includes followers of various religions, as well as many atheists. Please bear this in mind when editing.

However, our scientific point of view respects the scientific method as the most reliable framework for researching and understanding what happens in our universe. For this reason, we are critical of both religious and secular movements which oppose or ignore scientific thought and knowledge.

How RationalWiki is run

RationalWiki is a mobocracy. Some would use a tautology to describe it ("The way things are done around here is the way things are done around here"). But the most helpful description is that, in the course of numerous talk page discussions and edits to articles, a rough consensus emerges. Hence the standards of the site are ultimately an expression of the community makeup, and not a set of rules or policies.

Please keep in mind that the standards below are only an approximation of the site's working practices.


We prefer and encourage that users and editors become a part of the community. We encourage everyone to join in, be bold, and engage in sensible debate, but expect them to do so without resorting to vandalizing articles or harassing other users. Please assume good faith on the part of other editors, and don't panic. This is a wiki, and almost any damage can be undone with the click of a button.

Avoid edit wars. If an edit you make is repeatedly reverted, or someone has otherwise objected to it, then discuss it on the article's talk page. It is the best possible way for editors to reach any sort of understanding or compromise.

Discussions here sometimes get heated, but resorting to personal attacks is strongly frowned upon, however justified they may seem. In particular, racist, sexist and homophobic language and insults are not tolerated. Accusations of fascism or comparisons to Hitler are also best avoided (see Godwin's Law).

If you are engaged in an ongoing argument with another user about something, please keep the dispute within the relevant talk pages. Don't turn every possible page you or they appear on into another front of the battle. You will find that it's common here to see editors passionately debating something on one page, while also joking around with each other on another.


tl;dr: don't google people's names and post stuff you find

Personal information about other RationalWiki users that is not volunteered by that user should not be posted on this site. This includes IP addresses, and even where an IP address is volunteered, discussion of the user's geographical location, place of employment, or other private information based on their IP address (even if publicly available) is frowned upon.

In pursuing RationalWiki's missions, we often comment on the activities of individuals at other websites, but similar caution should be taken in respecting their privacy. Personal information regarding a living person should be limited to information which they themselves have released into the public domain, either through their personal website or a website they are associated with, or other formal publications. No information gained through personal research should be presented. No information divulging the names of family members (that are not themselves figures of interest) or "real world" contact details should be posted. If you are unsure, don't post such information.

User rights

User pages

An editor's user page, and other pages in their user space, is their personal space and they are free to do with it what they want (with common-sense-exceptions, such as patently offensive material, copyright violations or spam).

Most users don't mind minor spelling corrections by other editors on their userpage, but don't assume that of everyone: it may be better to ask first. Many editors allow joke edits to their page, made in good humor, to slide, but again, not everyone is so accepting.

A user's talk page, like any other talk page on the site, is public and does not belong to the user. No deletion of talk page material is permitted, although archiving may be done periodically.

Demoting and promoting users

Clarification: In keeping with RationalWiki tradition, an increase in the number of privileges is referred to as "demotion" and a decrease in privileges is referred to as "promotion"

Any user who is not a vandal or troll is generally "demoted" to sysop. It is left up to bureaucrats to judge for themselves whether or not a user is a vandal. (Remember that this is a wiki, so any damage done by a vandal who manages to be "demoted" can easily be undone.) A user can always request not to be "demoted", and bureaucrats are to respect these requests.

A sysop can only be "promoted" back down to regular editor status if they request it, or if they are causing trouble through serious vandalism, troll behaviour, or abuse of sysop abilities such as blocking. Complaints of this kind should be raised at the Administrative Abuse page, and the decision to "promote" the sysop should only be reached after a full discussion.

In some extreme cases, where a sysop is being particularly disruptive, a bureaucrat may need to "promote" them as soon as possible to prevent further vandalism or abuse, but they must then discuss their decision with others at the Administrative Abuse page, to determine whether the user should remain de-sysoped.

Renaming users

Users can be renamed only if they request to have their name changed or if they have a patently offensive name.

"Spoof" usernames (impersonating another user, usually) can be renamed unilaterally unless the spoofee expresses approval of the spoofer.

Dealing with vandalism

The vandal bin

RationalWiki has a special feature called the vandal bin. Sysops and bureaucrats can put vandals into a special list which limits the frequency of edits they can make to once every half hour. Users in the vandal bin also lose the ability to relocate pages. This allows RationalWiki to restrict the abilities of vandals, while still allowing them the opportunity to protest their punishment (something blocks, by their very nature, do not allow).

And to reiterate, assume good faith, and if and when that faith is betrayed, don't panic. A few edits by vandals does not a crisis make, so don't flip out and rampage over anyone who strikes you as maybe being a vandal. Wait until they make an edit or two, and if they are clearly vandalism, then put them in the vandal bin. Additionally, if an edit by a new user is questionable but not blatant vandalism, ask them about it on their talk page before assuming they are a vandal and vandal binning them.


Blocking is generally only used on known vandals. Sysops should limit most blocks to an hour or two. Blocks longer than this should be discussed first before implementing.

Some sysops issue "joke blocks" on their fellow sysops, lasting a few seconds to a couple minutes in length (although overuse of two-minute-plus blocks, or blocks against sysops in the middle of editing, are not always appreciated by the blockee).

Other times, a user may request that their IP be blocked to force them to log in, or simply block it themselves.

Sysops should exercise caution when issuing blocks. The purpose of the vandal bin is to avoid the problems of blocking (specifically, that if the blockee is not a sysop, they have no way of protesting it), and it is especially important to avoid mistakenly blocking innocent non-vandal editors, particularly if they're newcomers.

Page maintenance

Talk pages

Talk pages (including user talk as well as article talk pages) and other discussion pages, such as debates or the Saloon bar, are community property. They must not be deleted, nor protected, although they can be archived periodically. Similarly, users should not delete or change another user's comments on a talk or discussion page.

Please sign all talk page comments, by typing four tildes at the end (~~~~). This will leave your signature and a timestamp. Please also indent your comment using colons (:) at the beginning (one more than the comment above) as this makes discussions much easier to read.

Occasionally discussions may be moved from one talk page to a more appropriate location, by copying and deleting it from the original page and pasting it at the new page. It is important to provide a link to the new location, which can be done using the "movedfrom" and "movedto" templates.


RationalWiki prefers that a page's history ("fossil record") be preserved and publicly available. Therefore, if a user wants a page deleted, they must bring it up on the talk page first. If the page is a smaller, long-neglected one, this may mean waiting a while (remember that you can always drop a line on someone's talkpage pointing them to it, or use the intercom).

What can be deleted without discussion:

  • Users may delete non-talk pages or any part thereof in their own userspace (because it is their personal area).
  • Obsolete categories. In these cases the talk page of the old category should be moved to where the replacement category is. If there is no replacement category, then it can be left alone.
  • Unnecessary redirects.
  • Articles and redirects made by vandals whose sole purpose is obscenity and/or personal attack.
  • Edits adding personal information about someone (e.g. phone number, address, place of work, real name(s), etc.) not volunteered by that person. In these cases the first sysop to come across the information should immediately "hide" the relevant edit; see the sysop guide.

Talk pages should never be deleted. This includes talk pages in editor userspaces. This preserves a publicly viewable record of the decision to delete a page or a file. After deleting a page, please place the corresponding talk page, if it exists, in the appropriate subcategory of Category:Talk pages with no subject page.


A page can be moved without discussion only if it is a simple title correction (such as correcting a misspelling, changing an improperly capitalized letter to lowercase, or moving it from the common name of the subject to the formal one). If a user is moving a page out of their userspace (such as an article they were working on that is now ready for the mainspace), they similarly do not need to discuss it first.

If a user wants a page moved to what they feel is a more appropriate namespace, then they should raise the issue on the talk page.


RationalWiki generally does not protect pages. The community feels that, given the ease with which vandalism can be reverted, protection is unnecessary. (An exception is that some sysops do protect their own userpage and signatures for peace of mind.)

On rare occasions, the titles of deleted pages that have been repeatedly recreated by vandals are protected to avoid them being created again.

About namespaces

RationalWiki uses several "Namespaces", each for different kinds of content.

  • Article namespaces:
    • Main namespace — (no prefix before title) used for articles that pertain to our mission (see above). Articles in this namespace are intended to be collaborated on by any and all editors. For the purpose of promoting understanding of science, the mainspace also has articles on basic science and mathematics.
    • Conservapedia namespace— articles about Conservapedia, its management, and its participants.
    • Fun namespace — articles that are off-mission or just for fun. Entries that do not fit RationalWiki's mission are often moved here, if they are deemed worthy of saving at all.
    • Recipe namespace — recipes submitted by users.
  • Namespaces for personal expression:
    • User namespace — contains user pages but also pages created by users for their own use, such as sandboxes (for creating new articles and other works in progress) and essays relating to users. These are to be edited by that user only, although the corresponding talk pages are still community property.
    • Essay namespace — used for original works by a particular editor, which are usually marked as an original piece with a template giving the name of the author. The talk page is used to discuss the essay and remains public property open to any editor. Some essays are open for anyone to edit and serve more as "share your opinion" spaces than as essays. These essays are clearly marked as such.
    • Debate namespace — issues are posted for the RationalWiki community to debate. The talk page is used to discuss the debate itself on a meta level.
  • Namespaces for content about RationalWiki:
    • RationalWiki namespace — contains articles relating to the wiki itself, such as policies and "meta-discussion".
    • Help namespace — contains our very helpful "help" articles.
  • Namespaces for technical purposes:
    • Category namespace — for organising RationalWiki content. Every mainspace article should be in at least one category. See the list here.
    • Template namespace — content such as "info boxes" or userboxes are created on a template page so that they can easily be displayed on multiple other pages.
    • File namespace — files (generally images, but can include any other type of file permitted by the MediaWiki software) uploaded by users.

Advice when writing articles

  • Please do your best to watch for and correct spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • Please list categories at the very bottom of the article, not spread among various paragraphs and sections.
  • Articles should be put in the most specific categories possible; avoid placing an article in numerous broad categories. For example, Richard Dawkins should be in category:atheists and category:biologists, not in category:people, category:atheism, category:biology, and category:scientists. Doing so aids the use of categories as a navigating tool and prevents the broader "parent" categories from becoming too inclusive and unwieldy to be useful.
  • Internal links should lead directly to the article, not a redirect.
  • Redirects are used to direct someone using the search function to the proper article. For example, someone searching for "Scientology" should be immediately redirected to the properly-named article, Church of Scientology.
  • When referencing another wiki (or any other website), please use static or diff links. Links to the more volatile "live" versions are likely to become outdated soon after linking.
  • External links to websites purely devoted to hate (neo-Nazi, Christian Identity, Metapedia and so on) should be avoided per longstanding RationalWiki policy. This is so we don't contribute to driving up their standing in search engine results.

See also

For more expansive coverage of the topics described here please see the following pages: